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Venue for Libel Cases on the Internet

Posted by lexforiphilippines on July 5, 2010

Under Article 360 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 4363, libel cases where the complainant is a private individual is either (1) where the complainant actually resides at the time of the commission of the offense; or (2) where the alleged defamatory article was printed and first published.  If the private complainant opts for the second, the Information (formal indictment) must specifically state where the libelous article was printed and first published.  Previously, the case could be filed where the article was published or circulated, regardless of where it was written or printed.  The purpose of the amendment was to prevent indiscriminate filing of libel cases in far-flung areas in order to harass or intimidate the accused.

If the libelous article appears on a website, there is no way of finding out the location of its printing and first publication.  It is not enough for the complainant to lay the venue where the article was accessed, as this will open the floodgates to the libel suit being filed in all other locations where the website is also accessed or capable of being accessed, and spawn the very ills the amendment sought to prevent.  At any rate, the private complainant has the option to file the case in his/her place of residence, which will not necessitate finding out exactly where the libelous matter was printed and first published. So said the Supreme Court in the case of Bonifacio, et al. vs. RTC of Makati, Br. 129 (G.R. 184800; 5 May 2010).

Click on Tools for a Digest of the case of Bonifacio, et al. vs. RTC of Makati, Br. 129 (G.R. 184800; 5 May 2010).

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